Thursday, December 24, 2009

Walk The Line

Where Spirit and Soul Meet

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)

We are never in more danger than when we presume to judge the thoughts and intents of another person's heart; never more arrogant or prideful; never in a greater place of potential deception. Make no mistake, this temptation is from the evil one and dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden, "...did God really say 'you must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" Not only did Satan distort the truth (God didn't say that), but he led Eve into trying to judge God's motives. When we begin to judge and evaluate the motives of another person, we place ourselves in a position equal to or above the very living Word of God! This sin has caused more strife, more bloodshed, more wars than perhaps any other in man's dismal history.

All human relationship is based on how we connect at a 'heart' level, where our "thoughts and intents" reside; in other words, how the 'essence' of who we are - how God created us - interacts with the 'essence' of who others are. At the pinnacle of healthy human relationship is the understanding that we are, first and foremost, created beings. We are not some random coincidence. No human has ever been born or conceived by chance; there is no such thing as an 'x-factor' when it comes to human existence. Every person who has ever lived, lives, or will live has been strategically designed and placed on this earth by the Creator for His ultimate glory! Given this fact, it stands to reason that relationship with one another can flourish only as we flourish in our personal relationship with God.

Jesus Christ was Emmanuel - "God with us". The immeasurable vastness of our Creator diminished in size and form until He could be contained in the womb of a young virgin. From an infant in a manger, to a child, to a boy, to a man, Jesus grew and lived and walked among us, eventually giving His life freely, taking the punishment for our disobedient, rebellious, prideful ways upon Himself. He did this in an incomparable act of grace and mercy; all so we could be reconciled in our relationship the Father, God, the Creator! If we believe this, we will follow His ways, learn and obey His teaching, adopt His 'worldview' as our own. This will change us, we will be affected, different, as we come to know Him better (for He lives, you see, just as much today as He did 2000 years ago). This change will be evident in our relationships.

Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by the love that we have for one another. This love Jesus talks about is not human love, based on selfish needs and desires. It is a type of love we can experience only as we place ourselves in our proper station: created beings (and redeemed ones at that!). So you see, my friend, the circle is now complete. Unconditional love accepts without judging or evaluating the thoughts and intents of another person's heart (there's a great description in 1 Corinthians 13).

Amazingly, even the world understands at an intuitive level that God's love, unconditional love, exists and is critical to all human relationship. The Broadway musical Les Miserables ends with this sung dialogue:

On this page
I write my last confession
read it well
when I, at last, am sleeping

It's a story
Of those who always loved you
Your mother gave her life for you
Then gave you to my keeping.

Come with me
Where chains will never bind you
All your grief
At last, at last behind you
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy.

forgive me all my trespasses
And take me to your glory.

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

I went with my two oldest sons, Aaron and Hastings, to see James Cameron's Avatar last night. The essence of this movie is distilled down into 3 words: "I see you." It was impossible for the characters in the movie to speak these words outside an acknowledgment of "Eywa" the native Pandoran deity, who lived in and through everything (similar to "The Force" in Star Wars). Like Star Wars, Avatar is riddled with New Age, American Indian and Hindu theology, and serves no purpose other than sheer entertainment. Yet even in this totally humanistic effort exists the underlying the message for the need of unconditional love. When the humans and Pandorans set aside their differences and genuinely tried to accept one another, rather than judge each other, relationship thrived and they could say "I see you" with all their hearts.

The church will be remembered (and evaluated) not for great buildings, organizations, or evangelistic efforts, but for the love shared between her people. This is her greatest gift, her greatest legacy. The kind of love which refuses to judge the thoughts and intents of the hearts of others cannot exist apart from the direct work of the Holy Spirit within each of us. This work calls for complete surrender and obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ - the Creator, God taking the form of human flesh - a form He created! It's time for the Church, the Ecclesia, the Body of Christ, His ambassador to this planet, to really get this; time for us to look at one another, full of the Holy Spirit, Truth, and grace, and say, "I see you".

Merry Christmas!

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